They were created by the Terran Dominion, secret weapons forged from Zerg flesh and Terran steel. They were the ultimate war machines, unstoppable on the battlefield. They were incapable of questio...
Gregory P. Wong
Chapter 7: Straas And Szcraa
Traenid flexed his arms, igniting his psi blades, awaiting the next wave of metal balls to shoot out of the machine. The level indicator told him to expect a level-twelve barrage to fire. The spheres began to fly out, and he sliced and dodged all of them. He advanced to thirteen, then to fourteen. While he had reached level fourteen, he had never beaten it. His arms became blurs as he knocked the metal away. Suddenly, he tripped on a piece of diced sphere, and fell backwards, his arms flailing out of position as he sought to regain balance. He lost his fight with gravity and began to topple over backwards.
He saw the final ball barreling towards his face. Time seemed to slow down. Defeated, he closed his eyes, but then opened them when nothing hit his face. He felt shock as his back hit the padded floor. He sat up jerkily when he saw Esralath standing over him, her warp blade shimmering. She had been cloaked, so he wasn't able to see her. He calmed himself as best he could and spoke, trying to put a little humor into the situation.
"Oh, Esralath. Thank you! That one /almost /got me." he said, making it sound as if the mere metal ball was a dangerous adversary.
"Ah yes. We can never be too careful. That ball could have been infested," Esralath quipped.
They both laughed. The Dark Templar bent over and helped him up. His fingers trembled slightly as her hand wrapped around his.
"You're here to train too?" he asked. Then he mentally berated himself. Why else would she be here?
"Yes," she answered. She thought for a moment and said "I would actually like a sparring partner. The machines get too easy after a while. Would you...?"
"I... yes. Yes I will." He had to concentrate very hard to keep the tremor out of his psi-speak. "Um, weapons or no weapons?"
"None." Esralath said, sliding off her warp blade projector. Her usual dark brown cloak that she wore around the ship followed her weapon. She was wearing light training clothes. Sighing, he slipped his twin psi blade projectors off both arms, as well as the golden headband he normally wore on his forehead. He stood to face the Dark Templar. She had also taken off the black diamond armband from her upper arm. Contrary to popular Terran belief, Protoss did not lounge around in a command ship in their powered armor.
He went over to the sparring mat, and crouched, his arms in an active defense position. His right arm was up and forward, ready to strike, and his left arm was down and back, ready to block. The Protoss female was in an aggressive attack stance, both her arms mid way up her body, both able to dart forward and to guard her body. He circled to his left, keeping his eyes on hers. Her eyes shimmered slightly, and she shot forward, her right hand curled into a claw. Her right hand aimed to hit his lower abdomen. His left arm blocked, and his right flew out, aimed at her face. Her other arm parried the blow. They disengaged and moved backwards a few paces. Esralath kept up the attacks, and he blocked and counterattacked.
After five minutes of this, he began to grow annoyed. With a yell, he brought his arms into an attack position and charged. Not looking surprised, Esralath grabbed one of his arms and was about to begin a rolling throw, but Traenid was prepared. He had been expecting this. He placed his foot between her legs, so she wouldn't begin the tumble that would throw him through the air. He jerked his foot back, and the female Dark Templar stumbled, falling on her back to the ground. Before she hit the floor though, Esralath scissored her legs closed, knocking his feet out from under him.
He fell. Right on top of Esralath.
He was looking straight into her eyes.
"Oh! I am sorry." He said, trying to lift his body off of hers. He slipped and fell on her. This time his face was mere inches away from hers. Esralath began to turn her face away with a smile on her eyes, but they were too close. The front of his face brushed against hers. She laughed slightly. Then, almost reluctantly, he rolled off the Dark Templar and sat up. Esralath sat up too.
"Please, forgive me. I did not want that to hap-"
"That is not true," Esralath said, smiling. She tilted her head to the side.
"How would you know, you do not know the Khala..."
"No, but I did read your signs."
"Oh. I surmise that I did not hide them well enough."
"Staring at me whenever we met. The nervousness. I would say they were not hidden at all," the Dark Templar laughed.
Traenid laughed too. "Well, you know my feelings about you. Do you... share those feelings.?"
It seemed like the right thing to say at the time.
Esralath suddenly looked grim. "Do you want the real answer, or the one you want to hear?"
Feeling apprehensive, he asked, "Which is the one I want to hear?"
"For the answer you want to hear, the answer is 'yes'."
"And the real answer?" He said, doing his best to prepare for the response.
"Yes also," she said calmly. Then she giggled, and rubbed her hand on his cheek. "I will see you later, Templar. Stay well."
He was too astonished to reply as she recovered her blade projectors and cloak, and left the room after embracing him. She giggled slightly as she left the room.
I did /not expect that answer/!
He laid back down on the sparring mat and laughed out loud.
Szcraa was walking with Straas down the many corridors of the ship late the next day, just talking. They had their arms around each other.
"Have you wondered why our mechanical legs have such a miraculous repair system?" Straas asked suddenly.
"A little. I, of course, know why our organic parts are so effective."
"Our legs are /bio/mechanical. Metal and flesh are 'weaved' together. The metal flash-welds itself together, and the organic parts in our legs are as effective as our upper bodies."
"Uh-huh," she said, trying to sound bored. She was being excessively playful as of late. No idea why.
Straas put on a grin. "It doesn't sound convincing. Not 'bored' enough."
She snorted indignantly. "Stop doing that!" she said, kissing him on his neck.
"Sorry. It is an annoying habit I have seemed to develop, no?" Szcraa just snorted.
"Well, since I wasn't bored enough, what about our plasma cannons? Are they made of the same metal?" she said, gesturing to the plasma cannons that were folded down on their backs. Her datafiles weren't open, yet, so she went to Straas for little technical questions.
"Yes." Straas said. He suddenly looked thoughtful "I also found out after an... extensive search of my revealed datafiles, that we... uh... can, um... are able to..." The male mumbled.
"Later, Straas," she said. "It's time to eat."
The food, as usual, was quite good, though it was getting repetitive. Straas laid down on his mattress, thinking about last night. Szcraa was currently talking with Rethoj the Khalai, since he had told her to let Esralath and Traenid have some time to themselves. He left that thought and returned to his reflecting on Szcraa's dream. What does it mean/? he wondered. He had been /killed /by a Protoss. /Which Protoss would like to see him off dead/? Moreover, /how could a single Protoss kill him?
He heard the door open and sat up, greeting Szcraa as she came in through the door.
"Hello Szcraa," he said as she entered the room and walked over to her mattress. Szcraa looked over at her mattress, looked at him, and picked it up and carried it over to where he sat, and dropped it. She sat down on the ursadon skin..
"What's wrong?" he asked her, concerned.
"I don't know... I just want to be close to you." Szcraa sighed.
"That would be fine with me," he said with a grin. Szcraa moved closer to him and put her arms around his body, holding him.
"You've put yourself in danger to save me twice. Once on Waj Norhal and once in a dream."
"I would die to save you Szcraa..." he said.
"Don't say that..." she muttered,
"Szcraa..." he started, and was abruptly silenced when Szcraa reached up and kissed him. She then let go and stretched out on her mattress.
"I recall you trying to tell me something in the hallway, but it was time to eat. We never got around to it."
"Oh..." He remembered what he wanted to say, but this was not the time to say it. In the hallway, they had been bantering in the corridor, so it would not have led to anything. They might have even have dismissed it as a nice little factoid.
"Straas? Are you going to answer me?"
"Oh. Well, after looking at my datafiles, I found out that we could... uh... The two of us... have, um... can-"
"Can what?" she inquired, interrupting him.
"We are... We are able to... muh... mate," he finally stated quietly.
"We can /what/!?" Szcraa yelled, sitting up, her shoulder banging into his.
"Trust me, I was... as surprised as you were," he said, rubbing his shoulder.
"Why would Govalich put /this /into us?" she asked him.
"I don't know. Cassandra did some pretty strange things that don't seem to make sense."
Awkward pause. A long pause.
"So we can have, uh, children." She looked awkward saying that word.
"No. Our. . . mating was only designed for recreation, so to speak." He couldn't believe he was saying this. /To Szcraa/!
"I guess that's a good thing."
"Why?" He asked.
"Well, I don't know where we could find an extra pair of legs." Szcraa said. They both laughed. Straas decided to ask his question.
"Well, Szcraa, since we... love each other, would it be all right if I asked you if..."
"We could... yeah.? I was getting my courage to ask you the same thing, but I still have a question: how can we?" She said, gesturing to her biomechanical lower body. From personal experience, he knew that the metal was very, very tough.
"We have, uh, mating ports that... contain our notional reproductive organs."
"Oh. I hope you know how to open them."
"Yes. I'll send you the command lines to open them," he said, transmitting the codes.
I /still can/'t believe I'/m saying this/!
Putting his fears temporarily to rest, they opened their ports and let it happen. They giggled a few times when poking elbows of prodding knees tickled the other.
He was just not used to the moans, the touches, the movement. Definitely not used to it.
/I like it/, he decided.
That was wonderful/, /thought Szcraa. They were lying on their sides cuddling each other. She was panting hard. Straas, if possible, was breathing even harder.
"That's funny," she said, grinning at him.
"What's funny?" Straas asked.
"You can fight off legions of Zerg, but fifteen minutes of this can exhaust you."
Straas cleared his throat. "You were, well, uh, /highly energetic/." Straas said, nibbling on her throat. His hand reached around her body and stroked her back, brushing her flesh and folded-down plasma cannons.
"It's not as if you were not," she said smiling into his forehead and running her hand down his back and stroking his crest. Their hug tightened.
"I guess this makes us 'lovers' now, does it not?" Straas murmured.
"Yes, it does," she said, kissing him. She looked into his eyes, and saw a sense of relief, joy and... love in his eyes. She knew her face was mirroring his.
"I love you Szcraa," said Straas, his face only inches from hers.
"I love you too Straas." She said, felling him drawing her closer. They kissed, then she fell to sleep, content.
Straas rubbed his knee and got back up from the floor. Szcraa smirked.
It had been several days since their "first encounter", and the following days had passed fast. /And not only a "first encounter" too. We had many more after that/, he mused. The fleet was scheduled to reach Sawea in a day. Straas planted his feet in the ground, and put his arms up, his scythes extended but unsharpened. He and Szcraa circled the sparring mat, looking for openings. They had both deployed their plasma cannons, but had kept them deactivated. No need to blast a hole into the bulkhead for a sense of realism.
Szcraa was much faster than he was, but he was much stronger; Szcraa had to throw all her weight to parry one of his blows. They began to circle as soon as he regained his feet. With a feint to the right, Straas got her off balance, and delivered a swift kick that buckled Szcraa's left leg. A blow from an unsharpened scythe knocked her to the ground. It happened in the space of 1.5009 seconds
"We're equal now," Szcraa said, rubbing her rear. "Four to four."
"I must confess I'm too tired to continue," he said.
"I'm most likely as tired as you are. It's almost time for the evening meal."
"Then let's go," he said, wrapping his arm around her.
They entered the room, and Szcraa was surprised to see Traenid and Esralath alone at one of the tables, deep in conversation. She started over toward them.
said Straas over the comm.
She took a look at the pair. They looked to be quite content with talking with each other.